Famous 20th Century Martial Artists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite Martial Artists

 1 Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee
32
Famous As: Actor, Martial Artist
Birthdate: November 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: July 20, 1973

An iconic actor and martial artist, Bruce Lee, in his short life, gained international fame and developed his own form of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do. In films, he debuted as a child actor and became a huge Hollywood star after the release of his last film Enter the Dragon.

 2 Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris
20
Famous As: Martial artist
Birthdate: March 10, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ryan, Oklahoma, United States

A black belt in Tang Soo Do, Brazilian jiu jitsu and Judo, Chuck Norris is an American martial artist, screenwriter and a popular action film star. He has won many martial arts championships. He later founded his own discipline, Chun Kuk Do. He has also written books on martial arts, philosophy, politics, Christianity, plus Western novels and biography.

 3 Donnie Yen

Donnie Yen
8
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 27, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Donnie Yen is a Hong Kong martial artist, actor, stuntman, action choreographer, director, and producer. He has won several wushu tournaments and is credited for introducing mixed martial arts to mainstream Asian cinema. He is also credited with introducing UFC champion Zhang Weili to MMA. Donnie Yen has won several awards like Hong Kong Film Awards and Golden Horse Awards.

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 4 Scott Adkins

Scott Adkins
18
Famous As: Actor, Martial artist, Film actor, Taekwondo athlete
Birthdate: June 17, 1976
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sutton Coldfield

Scott Adkins is an English actor, producer, and screenwriter. He is a trained gymnast and martial artist and is best known for his action films. He played Casey Bowman in the film Ninja and its sequel Ninja: Shadow of a Tear. He considers Jean-Claude Van Damme to be his idol and has appeared in four films with him.  

 5 Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan
10
Famous As: Actor, Martial Artist
Birthdate: April 7, 1954
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

Jackie Chan is a martial artist, actor, film director, screenwriter and singer and is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing and innovative stunts in his films, which he performs himself. Rumble in the Bronx, Shanghai Noon and Rush Hour are some of his popular Hollywood films. He has a widespread following in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres.

 6 Randy Couture

Randy Couture
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 22, 1963
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Everett, Washington, United States

Randy Couture is a former U.S. Army sergeant and retired mixed martial artist. He currently works as an actor. He began his career as an army man and later turned to mixed martial arts. In this field, he was a three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion. After quitting UFC, he became an actor and starred in the hit film The Hard Way. 

 7 Jet Li

Jet Li
8
Famous As: Actor, Martial artist
Birthdate: April 26, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beijing, China

Jet Li is one of the most popular Asian actors to have made it big in the American film industry. A martial artist and former Wushu champion, he won a national championship before retiring from competitive Wushu to focus on his acting career. Also a well-known philanthropist, Jet Li is closely associated with the Red Cross Society of China.

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 8 Dolph Lundgren

Dolph Lundgren
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 3, 1957
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: SpÄnga, Sweden

Swedish actor, Dolph Lundgre,n is mainly known as an action hero. He gained recognition with the 1985 Hollywood film Rocky IV and then went on to do many action and thriller movies like Joshua Tree, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Bridge of Dragons, Universal Soldier, Diamond Dogs and The Expendables. He has also directed several films like Missionary Man and Icarus.

 9 Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 31, 1962
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Orlando, Florida, United States

The quintessential vampire-killer of Hollywood, Wesley Snipes is best known for his action-oriented films, such as the Blade film trilogy and The Expendables 3. Apart from being an actor, Wesley Snipes is also a martial artist, and hence often portray roles that require him to perform stunts. He is a black belt holder in Hapkido and Shotokan Karate.

 10 Bolo Yeung

Bolo Yeung
6
Famous As: Bodybuilder
Birthdate: July 3, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Guangzhou, China

 11 Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz
8
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner
Birthdate: April 16, 1985
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Stockton

Nate Diaz is an American mixed martial artist with experience of competing in several promotions, such as Strikeforce, World Extreme Cagefighting, and Pancrase. He is currently signed with the UFC and is tied with Joseph Edward Lauzon Jr. for the second-most bonus awards. In 2007, Nate Diaz took part in the fifth season of the reality TV series Ultimate Fighter.

 12 Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar
12
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 9, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Amritsar, Punjab, India

Akshay Kumar is one of the most popular and successful actors of Hindi cinema. He has been honored with several prestigious awards, such as Filmfare Awards, a National Film Award, and Padma Shri. Dubbed Indian Jackie Chan, Akshay Kumar is renowned for performing dangerous stunts in films.

 13 Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 10, 1967
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Michael Jai White is an American martial artist and actor. When he portrayed Al Simmons in the film Spawn, White became one of the first black actors to play a major comic book superhero in the history of American film industry. Known for his martial arts skills, White has played leading roles in popular action films like Mortal Kombat: Legacy.

 14 Jean-Claude Van Damme

Jean-Claude Van Damme
0
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 18, 1960
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sint-Agatha-Berchem, Belgium

Belgian actor,Jean-Claude Van Damme is best known for a string of martial arts films. He started his career as a karate fighter and competed in a number full-contact and semi-contact matches. Later he took up acting and became a star with the 1988 Hollywood film, Bloodsport. Cyborg, Lionheart, Double Impact and Universal Soldier are some of his notable films.

 15 William Zabka

William Zabka
14
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 20, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

William Zabka is an actor best known for his role as Johnny Lawrence in the film The Karate Kid. He started attending California State University but quit before completing his degree. He began his acting career in the mid-1980s and established himself in Hollywood within a few years. He turned a producer with the short film Most in 2003.  

 16 Chael Sonnen

Chael Sonnen
6
Famous As: Mixed Martial Artist
Birthdate: April 3, 1977
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: West Linn, Oregon, United States

Chael Sonnen is a retired mixed martial artist. He is also a submission grappling promoter and mixed martial arts (MMA) analyst. He began his mixed martial arts career in 1997 and soon became a top contender in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He has also made a few film appearances. 

 17 Royce Gracie

Royce Gracie
4
Famous As: Mixed Martial Artist
Birthdate: December 12, 1966
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazilian MMA fighter Royce Gracie, part of the renowned Gracie family of mixed martial artists, won the UFC 1, UFC 2, and UFC 4 championships. He made the Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, popular, and holds the 7th degree red/black coral belt in the art.

 18 Kelvin Gastelum

Kelvin Gastelum
6
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: October 24, 1991
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Jose

Kelvin Gastelum is a professional mixed martial artist who currently competes in the middleweight division for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He began wrestling in high school and turned professional after college. He worked as a bail bondsman for some time while training in mixed martial arts. He received the World MMA Breakthrough Fighter of the Year Award in 2014. 

 19 Chuck Liddell

Chuck Liddell
6
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: December 17, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Santa Barbara, California, United States

Chuck Liddell is a retired mixed martial artist. He participated in 23 fights in the UFC and is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. He is widely credited with bringing MMA into mainstream American entertainment. He was featured on the cover of ESPN The Magazine in 2007. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2009. 

 20 Michael Rooker

Michael Rooker
8
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 6, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Jasper, Alabama, United States

Michael Rooker is an American actor. A black belt holder in Kyokushin style of karate, Michael Rooker often uses his martial arts skills to play his characters, such as Yondu Udonta in Guardians of the Galaxy, to perfection. He is also known for his performance in popular TV series like The Walking Dead.

 21 Alistair Overeem

Alistair Overeem
6
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Kickboxer
Birthdate: May 17, 1980
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hounslow, England

 22 Uriah Hall

Uriah Hall
4
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Karateka, Kickboxer
Birthdate: July 31, 1984
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Spanish Town

Uriah Hall is a Jamaican-American professional mixed martial artist who emerged as The Ultimate Fighter 17 Knockout of the Season. He currently fights in the middleweight division for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and has previously been associated with Bellator MMA and Ring of Combat. Besides mixed martial arts, he has made a few media appearances. 

 23 Iko Uwais

Iko Uwais
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 12, 1983
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Jakarta, Indonesia

 24 Mark Dacascos

Mark Dacascos
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 26, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Mark Dacascos is an actor, trained martial artist, and TV personality. He is proficient in the Wun Hop Kuen Do style of martial arts and has won several karate and kung fu championships. As an actor, he is best known for his role in the action-horror film Brotherhood of the Wolf. He is married to actress Julie Condra.  

 25 Johnny Yong Bosch

Johnny Yong Bosch
10
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 6, 1976
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Johnny Yong Bosch is an American musician, singer, actor, and martial artist. He is best known for his appearance in the popular Power Rangers franchise where he has portrayed the first Green Turbo Ranger, the Green Zeo Ranger, and the second Black Power Ranger. Johnny Yong Bosch is also renowned for his voice-over work in films, video games, and anime. 

 26 Carlos Condit

Carlos Condit
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Kickboxer
Birthdate: April 26, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Albuquerque

Carlos Condit is an American retired mixed martial artist. A former Interim UFC Welterweight Champion, Condit has also competed in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) where he was a Welterweight Champion. While competing in the UFC, Condit won five Fight of the Night awards. After retiring from MMA, Condit went on to establish many business ventures, such as a coffee shop. 

 27 Cat Zingano

Cat Zingano
7
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: July 1, 1982
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Broomfield

Mixed martial artist Cat Zingano, who currently represents Bellator MMA, is a world champion in the bantamweight and flyweight divisions and had begun training in martial arts at 12. A brown belt and a world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, she also teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Thai, and wrestling.

 28 John Saxon

John Saxon
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 5, 1935
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: July 25, 2020

American actor and martial artist, John Saxon was best known for the film Enter the Dragon where he co-starred with the legendary Bruce Lee. The famous character actor of Western and horror films, in his extensive career spanning six decades, worked in more than 200 films and television shows including three Nightmare on Elm Street movies, The Appaloosa and Dynasty.

 29 Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson
4
Famous As: Amateur wrestler, Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: August 24, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Downey, California, United States

Dan Henderson is a retired mixed martial artist, who last competed as a middleweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He was the Rings: King of Kings 1999 Tournament Champion. He began his mixed martial arts career in 1997. At the time of his retirement in 2016, he was the oldest fighter on the UFC roster. 

 30 Cung Le

Cung Le
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 25, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Cung Le is a Vietnamese-born American actor, retired kickboxer, Sanshou fighter, and mixed martial artist. He has competed in popular promotions, such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). A former International Kickboxing World Champion in the Light Heavyweight division, Cung Le has an impressive record of 17–0 in kickboxing. He is also a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion.

 31 Li Ching-Yuen

Li Ching-Yuen
3
Famous As: Herbalist
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Chongqing, China
Died: May 6, 1933

 32 Sean Patrick Flanery

Sean Patrick Flanery
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 11, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States

Sean Patrick Flanery is an American actor, martial artist, and author. His notable films includeThe Boondock Saints, Powder, and Saw: The Final Chapter. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and teaches the martial art to many people. Also a race car enthusiast, Flanery won the Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race in 1997.

 33 Sammo Hung

Sammo Hung
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 7, 1952
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: British Hong Kong

Sammo Hung is a Hong Kong actor, filmmaker, and martial artist. He is best known for his work in martial arts films and played an important role in commencing the Hong Kong New Wave movement of the late-1970s and 1980s. He is also credited with helping many of his fellow actors establish themselves in the Hong Kong film industry.

 34 Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
3
Famous As: Actor, Film producer, Film actor, Television actor, Karateka
Birthdate: September 27, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Higashi-Azabu

Currently a Russian citizen, Japanese actor and martial artist Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa began his training in martial art while in junior school and acting while studying in Duarte High School, California, making his breakthrough as the Eunuch Chang in The Last Emperor. Thereafter he continued to appear in numerous productions, concurrently developing a new form of martial arts called Chun Shin

 35 Michael Bisping

Michael Bisping
22
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Kickboxer, Thai boxer
Birthdate: February 28, 1979
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nicosia, Cyprus

 36 Cub Swanson

Cub Swanson
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: November 2, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Palm Springs

Cub Swanson is a professional mixed martial artist, currently affiliated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he competes in the Featherweight division. He has been awarded "Fight of the Night" honors ten times. Industry experts consider him to be one of the most entertaining MMA fighters of all time. He is married to model and TV host Kenda Perez. 

 37 Will Yun Lee

Will Yun Lee
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 22, 1971
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Arlington, Virginia, USA

Will Yun Lee is an actor and martial artist best known for his role in the sci-fi TV series Bionic Woman. He has also appeared in the movie The Wolverine. The son of a Taekwondo grandmaster, he started receiving his training at the age of three. As a young man, he taught martial arts and also began his acting career.  

 38 Josh Barnett

Josh Barnett
3
Famous As: Professional wrestler, Mixed martial artist, Thai boxer
Birthdate: November 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Seattle

Josh Barnett is a mixed martial artist, submission grappler, and professional wrestler. He is currently signed to Bellator MMA. In the past, he was associated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. As a wrestler, he made his in-ring debut in 2003. He calls himself a catch wrestler. 

 39 Bruce Buffer

Bruce Buffer
3
Famous As: Announcer, Kickboxer
Birthdate: May 21, 1957
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tulsa

Known for his popular catchphrase “It's time!," Bruce Buffer, the well-known MMA ring announcer, initially worked in the telemarketing industry. He and his half-brother, announcer Michael Buffer, whom Bruce had no clue about till he was an adult, now run The Buffer Partnership, a company to grow their brand value.

 40 Joe Taslim

Joe Taslim
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 23, 1981
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Palembang, Indonesia

Indonesian actor and martial art expert Joe Taslim is best known for his appearances in the films The Raid: Redemption and Fast and Furious 6. He was previously part of the Indonesian national judo team and had won several championships. He has also played Li Yong in the series Warrior.

 41 Joseph Benavidez

Joseph Benavidez
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: July 31, 1984
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Antonio

WEC bantamweight fighter Joseph Benavidez had a 15-year career in combat sports, which included several top bantamweight and flyweight championship wins. Initially a screen printer in Mexico, he began his career with small boxing shows and began wrestling at age 16. He has also battled drug and alcohol abuse.

 42 Matt Serra

Matt Serra
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: June 2, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: East Meadow

Former mixed martial artist and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner Matt Sera began his career in 1999, successfully competing in several championships before joining Ultimate Fighting Championship, winning a total of 11 bouts till 2010. Currently the co-owner of a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school, he has also appeared in television productions like Chris Weidman: Untitled Documentary and Dana White: Lookin' for a Fight.

 43 Vitor Belfort

Vitor Belfort
4
Famous As: Boxer, Judoka, Mixed martial artist, Karateka
Birthdate: April 1, 1977
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro

 44 Frank Dux

Frank Dux
4
Famous As: Sportsperson, Actor, Screenwriter
Birthdate: July 13, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toronto

Frank Dux is a Canadian martial artist and fight choreographer. He began his training in ninjutsu as a teenager. He claims he served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for a few years and was awarded the Medal of Honor; however, this claim is disputed. He later founded his own school of ninjutsu called Dux Ryu Ninjutsu. 

 45 Ip Chun

Ip Chun
3
Birthdate: July 31, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Foshan

 46 Donald Cerrone

Donald Cerrone
0
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Kickboxer, Boxer, Thai boxer
Birthdate: March 29, 1983
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Denver

 47 Ben Rothwell

Ben Rothwell
3
Famous As: Mixed martial artist, Kickboxer
Birthdate: October 17, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kenosha

A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Ben Rothwell represents UFC as a heavyweight. Nicknamed Big Ben, he gained weight as a child due to an illness and ended up fighting a lot, eventually taking up martial arts as a career. He and his wife now co-own a martial arts school.

 48 Austin St. John

Austin St. John
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 17, 1974
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Roswell, New Mexico, USA

Born to a Marine and martial artist father, Austin St. John has black belts in Taekwondo, Judo, and Kenpo. An actor, too, he is best known as Jason Lee Scott from the Power Rangers franchise. He has also been a paramedic and a military healthcare provider in the Middle East.

 49 Wong Jack Man

Wong Jack Man
3
Famous As: martial artist
Birthdate: 1941 AD
Birthplace: Hong Kong

Chinese martial artist Wong Jack-man is best remembered for his duel with Bruce Lee in 1964. The duel was mired in controversy, as it was held privately in Oakland. There are different accounts of the fight, and Wong released his own version in the Chinese newspaper Chinese Pacific Weekly.

 50 David Ramsey

David Ramsey
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 17, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, USA

Best known for his roles in series such as Arrow and Dexter, David Ramsey is also a black belt in the martial art Jeet Kune Do and is well-versed in kickboxing and taekwondo, too. Apart from Arrow, he has played John Diggle/Spartan in three other series, including The Flash and Supergirl.